The 2016 lacrosse season culminated with dominant performances by some of the area's traditional powers, while other programs showed they are clearly on the rise. Many of the players who came up big this season will look to continue that success in college. In the end, high school lacrosse teams across Maryland showed once again why they are the most elite in the nation.
Dulaney Girls End 10-Year Title Drought
Although it took some rebuilding, the Dulaney girls' lacrosse team is back on top.
The Lions won their first state title since 2006 with a 15-11 victory against previously undefeated Leonardtown in the Class 4A/3A final May 24. Dulaney was also making its first appearance in the title game since 2007.
Against the Raiders of St. Mary's County, senior Mackenzie Gandy led the way with five goals and two assists. The state title was the culmination of a season full of hard work by an experienced group of players.
"Everybody had a great game," Gandy said. "We all were just connecting really well, and we helped each other get the 1-v-1's and taking advantage of what their weaknesses were."
Dulaney head coach Kristi Korrow also coached the Lions to the state championship in 2006. The Lions finished the season at 17-3, with two losses coming against Baltimore County rival Hereford.
However, Dulaney got hot at the right time and rolled through the playoffs, averaging 13 goals per game. Dulaney jumped out to an early lead against Leonardtown and never trailed after scoring the game's opening four goals.
"It was definitely one of our goals today -- to jump out early," Korrow said. "We figured that if we allowed them to get a lead on us, they'd probably slow things down. So we knew if we wanted to get our game going and get into a rhythm, [then] having that early start would be important for us."
Glenelg Girls Win First State Title Since 2008
The Glenelg girls' lacrosse team is a tight-knit group that shared one goal: winning a state championship.
The Gladiators closed out a stellar season with a 14-1 victory against Oakdale of Frederick County in the Class 3A/2A state title game May 24. Glenelg finished the season at 17-3 and outscored its opponents, 29-4, during the final two games.
"As a team, we gained a lot of confidence as the season went on," senior captain Caroline Esmond said. "We have players of every year, including three freshmen, so I think it took our team a little while to adjust and find that confidence. As we worked on and developed our offenses and defenses, each player was able to show their talents individually but still mesh as a unit."
Alayna Pagnotta led the Gladiators with three goals in the title game, while Georgia Esmond, Lindsay LeTellier and Courtney Renehan each scored twice. Sophomore goalie Maddie McSally finished with eight saves and shut out the Bears in the second half.
Manchester Valley Girls Wins Third Straight Championship
The Manchester Valley girls' lacrosse team is becoming a local dynasty.
The Mavericks stormed to their third consecutive state championship with a dominant 22-3 victory against Fallston in the Class 2A/1A title game May 25. Senior Lizzie Colson closed out her stellar career with eight goals against the Cougars. She will play at NCAA national runner-up Maryland next year.
"I have teammates who are always pushing me -- working on draw controls, timing my runs, goalies taking extra shots after practice, etc.," Coulson said about the team's chemistry this season. "I have so much support from the school, both academically and athletically, that allows me to be successful."
Rayna Deltuva finished with four goals in the title game for Manchester Valley, while Anna Geist scored twice and had five assists.
Severna Park Boys Claim Sixth State Title
The Severna Park boys' lacrosse team opened the season with consecutive losses to teams from the powerful Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
From there, through, the Falcons never lost again.
Severna Park won its six state championship and first since 2010 with a 9-3 victory against Howard in the Class 4A/3A final May 25. Trevor Patschorke and Cian Chung led the way with two goals apiece. The Falcons used a well-balanced attack and tight defending to close out the season on a 17-game winning streak.
Severna Park head coach David Earl saw the team's resilience from the early part of the season.
"Our commitment and dedication in practice has been tremendous," Earl said. "Every day, our players and coaches work hard to improve at all the little things we need to win. The two loses gave us extra motivation to get better."
Fallston Rolls to Another State Championship
The Fallston boys' lacrosse team learned some tough lessons in the early part of the season.
Cougars head coach Matt Parks put together a harsh out-of-conference schedule, including games against Calvert Hall and St. Paul's. While his team dropped five of its first seven games, Fallston was battled-tested the rest of the way, closing out the season with 13 straight victories.
In the Class 2A/1A championship game, the Cougars handed Liberty its only loss of the season with a dominant 12-5 victory to claim the program's fourth title in five years. It was also Fallston's fifth state championship in the MPSSAA era and seventh overall.
"As a captain, I see myself as both a person who is leading by example and also a vocal leader," Wolf said. "I am a vocal leader by taking a bigger role in controlling the offense while I am in the game. Whenever we are down or someone made a bad play, I try to stay positive and motivate my teammates. I am also a leader by example by simply doing whatever coach tells me to do and by being an unselfish player who is not afraid to make the extra pass to a teammate."
Ben Claffee led Fallston with four goals and two assists in the final. Liberty attackman Jared Cirulli closed out his senior year with 53 goals and 44 assists.
Linganore Boys Top Mount Hebron In 3A/2A Final
Daniel Ross scored five goals to lead Linganore of Frederick County to a 9-7 victory against Mount Hebron in the Class 3A/2A state championship May 24. It was the second state title for the Lancers. Mount Hebron was led by Dylan Scheeler's hat trick.
PNC Lacrosse Spotlight:
Bryn Mawr Sophomore Midfielder Olivia Rubin
Only a sophomore, Olivia Rubin has already emerged as a team leader and is among the best lacrosse players in the metro area. She had another solid season for Bryn Mawr, earning All A-Conference honors in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland. Rubin created matchup problems all season, and she had a five-goal performance against Maryvale Prep April 15. Rubin, who excels academically, has committed to Duke and was selected for the 2016 Under Armour All-America Underclass Lacrosse Tournament.
Having played varsity as a freshman and sophomore, what tips would you have for younger players now that you're an upperclassman?
Olivia Rubin: Going into my freshman year, the idea of playing with older girls for the first time was intimidating. But playing with more experienced girls really helped me develop as a player and a teammate. This year, one of our seniors, AP Smith, had a big impact on me. She has an incredible work ethic and such a positive attitude. She made me want to be a better teammate. In terms of tips, when I am out there, I am always thinking about hustling and trying to impact the game all over the field. Go hard for every ground ball, sprint back on defense and move the ball fast. If you hustle and play hard, good things will happen.
How did you improve during the season?
OR: Most importantly, I think we improved a lot as a team. We had a whole new set of coaches this year, and they did a great job of teaching us new offensive and defensive sets and bringing us closer together as a team. I think the part of my game that improved most was my dodging. Last year, I focused more on playing off-ball and cutting. But this season, I really worked on attacking my defenders and creating opportunities to go hard to the goal.
What went into your decision to commit to Duke?
OR: The recruiting process for me was really exciting, and I wasn't in any rush to make a decision. I spent a lot of time trying to see as many campuses as I could and really tried to get a sense of what I was looking for in a school. Once I got a good feel for that, I focused on schools with strong academics and a top lacrosse program. I think Duke was ultimately the perfect fit for me. It's a great school. I loved the coaches, the team and the other commits in my class. It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to go to Duke, and the recruiting process only confirmed it for me.